Pubdate: Thu, 09 Feb 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Page: A10
Cited: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse:


The principle feels counter-intuitive, and for many Canadians, the idea
of applying it in their neighbourhood is instinctively repellent. Make
it easier for intravenous drug users to shoot up by giving them a safe
and legal place to do it? Really? Really. Research and experience from
multiple countries reveal a simple truth, namely that supervised
injection sites work and the most frequently expressed concerns about
them are overblown.

Overdose deaths tend to drop, without an increase in property crime or
drug dealing in the immediate vicinity ( the evidence is less
conclusive on countering the spread of infectious disease). The number
of addicts tends to fall, as do public disorder offences.

In other words, the recent decision to approve three new supervised
injection sites in Montreal, which has sought for years to replicate
Vancouver's experience with Insite, the continent's first legal
injection facility, is necessary and commendable.

For far too long, drug addiction has been viewed primarily as a law
enforcement problem rather than a public health issue.

Ideally, we want people to not get addicted to heroin or fentanyl in
the first place. We also want them to not die if they do, and to
overcome that addiction. Because the reality is Canada is faced with a
growing opioid epidemic.

Just this week the government of Alberta reported 343 fentanyl-related
deaths in 2016, a 40- per-cent jump from 2015. In British Columbia, a
record 914 died last year after ingesting illicit drugs.

There is no authoritative figure on intravenous drug users in this
country, but the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, citing various
sources, pegs it between 75,000 and 125,000 - by way of comparison,
about 200,000 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer last year, and
50,000 or so with heart failure.

Injection sites are proven to be effective with habitual users; the
problem is fentanyl is killing casual consumers as well.

Alberta has reacted by widening access to treatment programs and to
naxolone, an opioid antagonist; the province has also set $ 750,000
aside to establish "supervised consumption services."

These developments are important steps toward a more enlightened
approach to tackling drug use and addiction. Many more can and must be
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